Covered California solidified its role as a big marketing machine for health insurance by announcing a contest to promote its Small Business Health Option Program or SHOP. The top producer of quotes for the Covered California small group health plans will win 100 hours of telemarketing according a sales seminar slide shown during their seventh sales webinar held in early January.
Covered California quoting contest
The Covered California quoting contest will run for three months from February to April. The Certified Insurance Agent that submits the most number of quoted lives will win a telemarketing program worth $2,800. The second and third place quoters will be entered into the SHOP Lead Management System. All of the top quoting agents have to sell at least one case to be eligible for the prizes.
Dial & Smile, sell, sell, sell
Large insurance general agencies will typically run contests that reward agents for bringing in new business and sometimes just quotes. Usually the prizes include vacations to Mexico or Las Vegas. The purpose of the contests, not unlike Covered California’s, is to get agents to pound the pavement or dial and smile, and sell, sell, sell. In this instance, Covered California is hoping just to quote, quote, quote. (To view the webinar or see a slide presentation you can visit https://goto.webcasts.com/
Do I want to sell a SHOP plan?
As an agent who can sell SHOP small business health plans, I do need some motivation to even talk about the program after a horrible experience with Covered California SHOP in 2014. However, winning 100 hours of telemarketing consultation sounds more like torture than a reward to me. Frankly, I’d be happy Covered California would just pay the commissions they owe me in a timely fashion. Ironically, to win the contest prize most agents will sit on the phone telemarketing to try and generate quotes for Covered California. The prize, if they win, is more sitting on the phone making telephone calls.
Who doesn’t love a cold sales call at their office
It was unclear from either the sales seminar or the SHOP promotion flyer if the 100 hours of telemarketing is actually consulting on how to pick up a phone and call small businesses or if they will employee an actual telemarketing company to hound prospects for the agent. The worst case scenario will be 100 hours of robo-calls to small businesses who really detest sales calls in the first place. There was also no mention if the Covered California SHOP sales executives who work for Pinnacle Management and operate the small business side are ineligible for the contest.
SHOP is doing great
The SHOP representative said during the sales seminar held on January 7th that 2014 small group enrollments were strong and 2015 was looking great. So if business for the SHOP health plans is so rosy, why do they need a contest to promote the program? I have nothing against the health plans in SHOP or the structure of the program. It actually has a nice core of plans and the concept of multiple health plans and carriers being offered to employees is good. SHOP will continue to get better when they are able to add dental and vision plans all on one invoice like California Choice.
Just another sales department
The depressing aspect of Covered California and SHOP is the marketing and sales emphasis over education. I was hoping that Covered California would depart from the traditional pushy insurance sales game where gimmicks are hyped over substance. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case. Covered California, for all outward appearances, is just another marketing machine that focuses on sales first and consumer education second. If you want a quote for Covered California SHOP send me an email because I don’t “dial and smile” to generate leads.